Archives for category: Training Skills

Well done for all of your efforts for the longer session last week – especially the hard core who did a full 3-hour session (Team Bradford, Anita & Jo.)  I hope I didn’t forget anyone?!  A fantastic effort all round!

This week we will be starting our Winter training for most people but continuing some race-pace efforts for lane 1 and lane 2 (8am session only) for a couple more weeks, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, for those racing at the end of October.  The race-pace efforts will be USRPT 50s and for everyone else aerobic-paced swims after some technique work focusing on a high-elbow pull.

So have you come up with some Winter swimming goals after my post a few weeks ago?  Is it improving your 400m time trial time by 10s over the Winter or just learning to swim at the same pace more efficiently so you can focus on improvements for your bike and run?  Whatever your goal is, have you come up with a plan for how you will try to achieve it with some process and performance goals to help you along the way?  I would be very happy to hear about them if you have.

I would strongly recommend thinking hard about what you think will help you achieve your swimming goals and also getting some help.  I am very happy to provide any coaching advice so please just ask.  Also, Chrissie has kindly offered to help coach some sessions over the next few weeks so please do ask her advice.  And I will plan to bring along a camera to as many sessions as I can over the next few weeks for anyone that wants filming – above or below the water.  This is a great way to see what you are doing and decide on any technique changes you may wish to make in support of your goals and also get a baseline recording for comparing against.  There is nothing like having feedback to compare against to check that the changes you are making are effective.

See you Saturday!



As mentioned last week, it’s time to celebrate the end of the triathlon season (for most of us) with our special swimming session.  The Juniors will be at Thetford so we have the pool for 3 hours meaning we can do our favourite long set of 100s.

We will be doing two 1.5 hour sessions from 7am till 8:30am and 8:30am till 10am.  We will be doing a long set of 100s in both sessions giving you the opportunity in each session to do 5km in lane 1, 4.5km in lane 2, 4km in lane 3 and 3.5km in lane 4.  Or why not double up for a really monster set of distance training!?

Three things I’d like you to do on Saturday, please:

  1. Bring a drink and appropriate nutrition for the length of set you are planning to tackle.
  2. Focus on efficiency in your stroke and good technique – especially maintaining a high elbow catch with core rotation to finish each stroke strongly – when you are starting to fatigue.
  3. Enjoy both the personal challenge and sharing it with everyone else in your lane, too.

See you Saturday,



Photo by Guy Roberts on Unsplash

This week the Juniors will be doing time trials again so we will be finishing the 8am session at 9am to give them a bit more time.  As usual, in return, we will be getting the pool for all 3 hours on 6th October so we will be taking full advantage with two hour and a half sessions to officially mark the end of the our main Triathlon racing season.  That means we will be starting Winter training on 13th October (for most people) so I hope you have been thinking about your swimming goals for this Winter as I wrote about in my post last week.  I will talk more about that in a future post.

The slight exception I will be making this year is to keep our faster swimming going for those who are racing at the end of October in Ibiza at the ETU Championships and also as the Masters Short Course Championships in Sheffield.  To accommodate those doing these races I will be keeping the race pace sessions going for lane 1 in both sessions on 13th and 20th October as well as the 8am session for lane 2 on those dates.  I think that covers most of those racing at these events and also provides options for those wanting to start the Winter training by choosing a different time or lane for the sessions on 13th and 20th October.

For our last race-pace session this week we will be doing some speed endurance 100s followed by 100% effort 50s.  This is a good session to keep your speed endurance going for any late season races and enjoy a max effort blow out for those who just want to finish the season with a blast in the pool.

See you Saturday!


As the triathlon season draws to a close it is time to start thinking about our goals for the Winter.  Helen is much more of an expert than me on goals and you may have seen her article on goal setting in Outdoor Swimmer.  For me this provides a good framework in terms of outcome goals, performance goals and process goals.

  • Outcome goals are exciting! These represent a goal which is motivating but is not necessarily in your control, for
    example doing a personal best time in a 5km race or taking 20 minutes off your Ironman time.
  • Performance goals monitor if you are on track. This is where you set small challenges for improvement, for
    example doing an extra swimming session each week or aiming to reduce your 400m time trial time by 10s.
  • Process goals are most directly in your control, these are steps that you can do on a daily basis in order to help you achieve goals, for example choosing a specific technical element, such as your high-elbow pull underwater, to work on each time you go training.


So what are your outcome, performance and process goals?  It might take some time to think them through.  I would encourage you to do this over the next few weeks before we start Winter training, since having clear performance and process goals will give you a great focus, as well as providing the psychological benefits Helen talks about in her article.

In the session this week we will be doing the Jess Learmonth session of 100s and 50s interspersed with kick.  We haven’t done a session like this for a while so enjoy the challenge!

See you Saturday,


Only just over a week until the club Aquathlon so we’ll be looking to sharpen your 400m time trial skills.  We’ve had some good speed work over the last few weeks so this week we will be doing some speed endurance swims – doing blocks of 100s at race pace with a short recovery.  And to add a bit of race-day practise I am going to ask you to do a quick exit from the pool after each block of 100s before heading down to the opposite end of the pool to start the next set.

As we all know, racing any multi-sport event, like Triathlon or Aquathlon, requires a measured effort on the first disciplines to ensure you have enough left to quickly and efficiently get through both the transitions and the subsequent disciplines.  So please try and simulate this approach this week and swim each block of 100s as fast as possible but trying to hold a little bit back, as you would for going in to the run, by swimming as fast and relaxed as possible.  As I have said before a good way to do this is to have a good high stroke rate.  The drills we will be doing before the main set will help you get ready for swimming a higher stroke rate in the main set.

See you Saturday, Rob!


Photo by Mateus Araujo on Unsplash

Well done for your efforts last week on the faster paced 100s.  It was good to see you putting in some great efforts consistently over the whole set and many of you hitting consistently fast times.


I will be swimming and coaching the session as usual this week (4th August) and then away for the next 3 weeks returning on 31st August.  Chrissie and Simon are also away then so you will be doing the sessions yourselves.  I will leave them in the club box tomorrow for you to get out for each of the sessions over the next few weeks so please help set up the pool and get the sessions out if you are there first for the 7am session.  The plan for August is as follows:

  • This week we will be building on the fast 100s last week with some even faster 50s this week with the return of the USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) set with every swim at your 200m race pace.
  • Next week is more 50s with the Will Clarke Set of faster and steadier paced 50s off different turnaround times.  The aim of this is to keep the top-end swim speed you have been building over the previous two weeks and combine it with some more speed endurance.
  • The week after that sees the return of the ratchet set which is all about speed endurance.  With the faster paced swimming we have been doing leading up to that you should be able to really feel comfortable at the start of the set with some easy speed to help you make the increasingly tight turnaround times and stay relaxed.
  • The final week before I am back will be the main set of positive-split 200s.  It is a very long main set and including plenty of 200s where you will be practising starting fast before dropping back into a sustainable race-pace cruise.

Enjoy your August and your holidays if you are going away.  Have fun and enjoy the swimming wherever you can!


Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

OK, so it is really hot at the moment so we are going to take a break from the longer sets with short turnaround times and focus on increasing your top-end speed.  To do this we will be doing some faster paced 100s with longer rests, which will give you plenty of time to think about keeping that excellent quick breathing going that we were practising last week!

You should be aiming to swim each 100 as fast as you can at a pace that you can maintain for the whole set.  That should mean that you are swimming each 100 at about your anaerobic threshold.  If the lactic acid starts to build up in your arms on each swim, then you are swimming too fast.  You want to be swimming just below this level so that you are only at the point of your muscles tightening up on the last stroke of each 100.  If you have enough breath after each 100 to chat then you are swimming too slowly!

Please do monitor your times when swimming this type of set as it provides great feedback on how efficiently you are holding your stroke together as you try and swim faster.  I have heard some of you say that you put a lot more effort into the harder swims some times but your times either stay the same or sometimes even get slower.  Feedback from the clock is an excellent way of measuring what actually works in the trade-off between effort, technique and speed.  I find that focusing on pushing hard at the back end of the stroke is a good way for me to keep stroke length and efficiency when trying to swim faster.  Something different may work for you – but if you don’t take your times and try different things you will never know!

See you Saturday,



Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Well done for all of your efforts on the 50s while I was away.  It is a bit quieter in the pool now we are into race season so please make use of the extra space and leave 5 second intervals between each other.

This week we will be doing a main set consisting of blocks of 100s off a short turnaround with some extra rest in between each block.  Please try and swim these with a fast stroke rate.  Use some quick breathing to help with this.

See you Saturday!


Well done for all of your efforts on your feet over the last two weeks with the work we have been doing on your leg kick.  This week we will be doing some work on a drill we haven’t used for quite a while – front crawl with fists.  This is an excellent drill – recommended by Vicky Holland as one of her favourite drills – to help you focus on the high-elbow catch by using your forearms rather than your hands to generate the most power on your pull. Also we be doing some golf stroke 50s to help you experiment with your stroke efficiency by varying your stroke rate and distance per stroke.  The fists drill is a great preparation for your work on this.


We will finish the session this week with some pursuit 200s where I would like to encourage all of you to experiment with different tactics and changes of pace.  Using the stronger leg kick you have recently been practising is a great way to change pace quickly!

See you Saturday,


Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

After the quick start set we did last week we are going to do some work focusing on your legs this week.  Using your legs for selected periods of a swim is a great way to generate a change of pace if you want to bridge a gap and get on someone’s feet, or to make a quick gap to get someone off your feet.  However, using your legs can be very tiring so practising using them in a session is a great way to both improve your leg fitness and get a good workout.

splash of water

Photo by Noelle Otto on

This week the main set is based on one of Jess Learmonth’s favourite sessions that includes several 100s kick alongside some race pace swims.  We will do this after a steady-paced subset of pull with paddles so you will be getting a chance to exercise your full body very well this week!

See you Saturday,


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